I love it when people tell me stories. And because I write books about offbeat things, the shared tales list heavily toward eccentric.
One of my favorites is also one of the simplest. A woman at a book signing walked up to confide that as a child, she named her favorite doll “Certainly.” Why? Because no one had told her it wasn’t a name.
Certainly came to mind yesterday while I was flipping through a great handbook, “Edit Yourself” by Bruce Ross-Larson. I found Certainly plopped in the middle of a column of WEAK MODIFIERS. Turns out Certainly has many sisters and brothers: Actually, Definitely, Hopefully, and Rather, to name a few.
I’ll think fondly of the whole family next time I’m slashing the fat from my deathless prose, and try to ignore the mental image I now carry of little dolly heads being callously lopped. It puts a disturbingly literal spin on that old editing phrase “killing your darlings.”